Cholera statistics rise again as new malaria fears grow

The number of cholera cases reported in the country has once again jumped by more than 1000 cases, and according to the World Health Organisation the official figures now stand at more than 65 000 infections since August last year.



On Tuesday the UN agency announced the infection rate had risen to 64
701, a jump of more than 2000 cases since the last official figures
released on Monday. On Wednesday, the number had risen to 65 739 with
28 new reported deaths, bringing the official death toll to 3 323. The
unreported figures have been impossible to quantify as there is no way
of knowing how many people are dying in their homes. The critical lack
of functioning medical centres means untold thousands are not accessing
health services and being treated, and the cholera death toll alone is
feared to be significantly higher than what is being reported.

The collapsed health system means thousands more people are at risk
from illnesses usually treatable in a functioning society, and there
are new fears that malaria will now start making an impact on an
already suffering nation. Matthew Cochrane from the International Red
Cross has been travelling across Zimbabwe to assess the effects of the
epidemic, and on Wednesday explained that malaria fears are growing.

Understandably the focus has been on cholera and the food shortage,
Cochrane explained. But with the persistent rains, malaria is really
starting to raise its head too.

Malaria is an endemic problem in the country, but with no medicines,
medical facilities or even means to feed the sick, it is yet another
disease threatening the lives of thousands.

The Red Cross meanwhile has warned it will need to stop its cholera
relief efforts in the country in the coming weeks because of funding
problems, a move that will be a huge blow to the fight against the
disease in the coming months. The devastation as a result of the
epidemic has caught the attention of an international Women's
Empowerment NGO, WICO, which is starting a fundraising drive to help
those affected by cholera.

The group's founding President, based in Israel, Dr Dalia Steiner, told
SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that she is concerned that people don't
seem too concerned by what is happening, and we need to take more
action against the epidemic.' She explained that the Israeli government
is planning to take urgent steps' by raising money to provide
medicines and clean water in crisis stricken Zimbabwe, and said she
hoped there would be results as soon as possible.

We want these goods to arrive within the next week because people cannot wait anymore for help, Steiner said.

Post published in: Analysis

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